Washington, D.C.—The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) is pleased to support the bipartisan, “Holding Providers Harmless from Medicare Cuts During COVID-19 Act of 2020,” introduced by Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA) and Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-IN). This bill takes important steps to blunt steep cuts to physician reimbursement that are planned to take effect in January 2021, including a 6 percent Medicare reduction for emergency physicians.
“Without congressional intervention, these planned cuts will come at a time when many emergency physicians are under unprecedented financial strain as they risk their lives to protect people from this public health crisis,” said Mark Rosenberg, DO, MBA, FACEP, president of ACEP. “This bill would provide some much-needed stability for those on the frontlines while the fight against COVID-19 continues.”
H.R. 8702 would hold these physicians harmless from any reductions that would be less than what they were reimbursed in 2020, while keeping in place the scheduled pay increases for primary care. For physicians who do receive a cut, this bill authorizes a temporary additional payment for 2021 and 2022 equal to the amount lost.
This bill comes on the heels of a letter spearheaded by Reps. Bera and Bucshon and co-signed by 229 Representatives in support of efforts to avoid Medicare pay cuts at this challenging time. With more than half of the House signing the letter, it represents a strong showing of bipartisan support among legislators and highlights the concerted advocacy of ACEP and other medical specialties who are concerned about the impact these cuts may have on health care professionals and the patients they serve.
“After nearly a year of fighting this pandemic, many emergency physicians are struggling with financial hardships and professional uncertainty,” said Dr. Rosenberg. “Cases are increasing across the country, and we cannot abandon our support for our health care heroes during this critical time.”
ACEP is working closely with legislators, regulators, and other physician and non-physician groups affected by the budget neutrality rule to push for, at the very least, a solution that holds physicians harmless. In comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, ACEP outlines how a public health emergency would exacerbate the effects of a reduction and recommends steps to mitigate these potentially devastating cuts.